Farmers markets are a wonderful way to support local agriculture, eat fresh and healthy foods, get great flowers and build community. However, it’s important to approach farmers markets with some best practices in mind to ensure that you are optimizing your experience and supporting local farmers to the fullest extent. Here are some farmers market best practices to keep in mind:

1. Bring your own bags and containers. Many farmers markets discourage the use of plastic bags, so come prepared with your own reusable bags or containers to carry your purchases.

2. Come prepared with cash. While many farmers market vendors accept credit and debit cards, it’s always a good idea to have some cash on hand just in case. Some vendors may not have access to card processing machines, and it’s easier to make small purchases with cash. Furthermore, cash saves farmers money (typically 2.7 percent of your total purchase).

3. Take the time to explore. Don’t rush through the market and risk missing unique vendors and products they offer. You may discover something new and exciting that you never knew existed!

4. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask the farmers and vendors questions about their products. They are often happy to share information about their farming practices, the varieties of produce they offer, and how best to prepare and care for their products.

5. Buy in season. Shopping for produce and cut flowers that is in season is not only more sustainable, but the products are also likely to be fresher and more flavorful. Talk to the vendors to find out what’s in season in your area.

6. Try new things. Farmers markets are a great opportunity to try new fruits, vegetables and cut flower varieties that you may not have experienced before. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try something new!

7. Respect the products. When browsing a market, be gentle and respectful. Don’t squeeze or handle produce roughly, as this can cause damage and make it harder for vendors to sell their products.

8. Bring a cooler or insulated bag. If you’re planning on purchasing perishable items like meat, dairy, or eggs, bring a cooler or insulated bag to keep them cool and fresh on your journey home.

9. Be mindful of crowds. Farmers markets can get crowded, especially on weekends. Be mindful of others and avoid blocking stalls or aisles. Also, be patient when waiting in line, and don’t cut in front of others.

10. Spend generously. Remember that the primary purpose of a farmers market is to support local agriculture. Be sure to purchase from local farmers rather than resellers or vendors who may be selling produce from outside of the area.

By following these best practices, you can have a wonderful farmers market experience while supporting local farmers and promoting sustainable agriculture. Happy shopping!